LeBetter Flats (part 3): when the Senators go marching in …

Stadium - Nice fit (cropped)

I hear that the NCC’s proposal call for the next phase of building the Flats was carefully worded to not exclude a major stadium as a land use*. While we may think the current Canadian Tire Place is still “new”, it is ageing. Apparently major arenas and rinks often only have a 30 year or so lifespan before they are functionally obsolete suboptimal. Built in 1993 as the Palladium, it will be 30 years old in 2023. So its not too soon (according to stadium aficionados) to be investigating a new stadium. And that requires a site.

The Flats are located in a highly visible area, at the crossing of the Confederation and Trillium lines (transit mecca !) with close transit links to Gatineau. Within walking distance of downtown hotels. Surrounded by acres of high rise condos. All features to warm the cockles of a planners fantasy.

Note that the NCC proposal call is for west of Booth Street only; as Claridge still has all the rights to the current approved plans on the east side of Booth. In the opening picture, the blue number 1 marks the site of the current yellow and brown condos on both sides of Fleet Street. Booth is clearly labelled, as is the park for BluesFest and the War Museum at the blue number 2.

[double click to enlarge picture for greater visual enjoyment. Grab a napkin to mop up drool or dry tears. Feel free to print and post the picture on your cubicle wall]

The photoshop picture  simply takes the existing Canadian Tire building and a minimum of parking space and relocates it onto the Flats. The scale is correct. A new building might not look like the “old” existing building, but this way it’s actually easier to imagine the building relocated.

The new stadium just fits in, avoiding the historically-designated aqueduct and Wellington Street. There is still room for high rises between the aqueduct and Albert Street. You can see how easily people could leave the stadium and cross the canal right away at the Broad and Booth crossings. The new Pimisi Station on the Confederation Line will be located running west from Booth, immediately below (south) of the line of buses shown waiting for a green light at the Booth intersection.

Other attendees would exit the stadium and walk west roughly where the transitway is presently located, to access Bayview Station and the OTrain Trillium Line, which might, by 2023, run over the Prince of Wales railway bridge and connect to or parallel the Gatineau Rapibus transitway.  This link is just barely cut off the left edge of the photoshop image below:

Stadium - Nice fit


One of the problems with this Sens stadium being built on the Flats is that the Sens probably don’t want it for a few more years, and the NCC is likely to want to develop the Flats sooner than that. Assuming they can move that fast. There is, of course, still the strip of land between Albert and the new Confederation line ripe for high rise heaven all the way from Bayview Station to Bronson Avenue, which the NCC could develop in the meantime. But I think they’ll want the area west of Booth for their next urban nirvana scheme.

So lets push the new Sens stadium further west, to the last phase of the Flats development. This probably fits the NCC and Sens timelines a lot better:

Stadium - Bayview (cropped)

Now the new stadium is west of the Preston Street extension, which opens for a short life on December 21st of this year, but which will be abandoned again in 2016. For fun, the new stadium is shown to scale, but over top of the Confederation Line which runs through the basement. Note the tunnel entrance portal. So the stadium would need to be higher out of the ground than shown here.

Attendees to the stadium would mostly exit on the west (left) side directly into the Bayview Station which will house both the Confederation Line (east-west rail) and the Trillium Line (north south rail). The new Pimisi Station would still be within easy short walk to the east (right; where the busses are shown in the picture).

This stadium site respects the NCC’s “view plane”, a Greber-ism that ensures that JAM parkway motorists surmount the hill that takes them over the railway tracks to that “Oh Wow” moment as they first see the view of the downtown and Parliament.

This stadium location allows the NCC to build out the section of the Flats west of Booth all the way to Preston, which is lots of space for a workable community. And there is some additional narrow space along Albert west of Preston right up to Bayview Station. This would connect the Flats and stadium visually with the two approved 48+ storey office towers on the other side of Albert from Bayview Station. What ever could go wrong?

Here is a larger view:

Stadium - Bayview


Could either stadium location on the Flats survive with that little parking?

I think it could. Look at TD Gardens, in Boston:

Stadium - boston without green line

The TD Gardens is the rectangular white building in the centre. Its surface parking lot is on this side of it. Not very big. There are office buildings and residences right up close to the structure. I didn’t see any large parking garages. Notice the freeway entering the famous “Big Dig” tunnel that hides the noisy road through downtown Boston. And the railway tracks running north out of the station and over the Charles River. Under the Boston Gardens is the Boston North railway station.

And also under the Gardens is the metro Green Line. You can see a bit of it running off to the left. Leaving a game — it was Boston vs Sens** — one would expect the subway line to be jammed with people. In fact, the crowds surged down stairs to generous sized platforms, trains whisked in constantly, waits for trains were minimal, there was no jam at all. Wonderful.

In Ottawa, we are building “storage tracks” for extra trains at Tunney’s for east bound surge traffic at events like Canada Day and BluesFest. Extra west-bound trains will be stored on the far side of the downtown core.

Here’s roughly where the green line goes under TD Gardens:

Stadium - boston with green line

A stadium with even less surface parking is Madison Square Gardens in NYC. It has remarkably few basement levels, and accordingly has a higher above-ground profile:

Madison Square Garden Cross-Section


Note that locating a stadium west of Preston extinguishes the opportunity for a new Museum of Science and Technology in that area.

What happens to the old Palladium stadium out in Kanata?  I’m afraid it will likely die of old age before the City gets a rapid transit link out to the site. And that transit was a necessary catalyst to get those surface lots redeveloped as office space. Remember, that location was to be the centrepiece of a major real estate play, just like the Flats location is. Maybe it will become a mega church: the Praydium. Who knows.

Just for fun, here is the existing Kanata stadium and its parking lots dropped down onto the Flats, and smothering a few adjacent neighbourhoods too:

Stadium - Bad fit (cropped)

If people can walk from those parking lots to the building, they certainly could walk to a stadium on the Flats.


* I had the photoshop pictures created about two weeks ago, and then wrote this story a few days ago for release as part of the LeBetter Flats series. Then on Wedn. the news broke that the Sens were looking at the Flats. Well, I snooze, you lose.

Don’t forget to click back (use the blue text just below on the left side) to parts 1 and 2 of this LeBetter Flats series. Part 1 has views you have never seen before of the yellow brick condos; Part 2 is more of interest to fantasy planners. Next: the Isles.ca. And then: what a city famous for planning is doing on its downtown redevelopment site, with lots of pretty pictures to eat your heart out. And no stadium.

You can get all stories from WestSideAction.com by putting your email address in the “subscribe to”  box at the top right of your screen when you scroll back up to the top of the page.

photoshopping by Cosmos Darwin. 


** Sens lost.


4 thoughts on “LeBetter Flats (part 3): when the Senators go marching in …

  1. Such a great analysis.. nice work! I really enjoyed the images also – thank you Cosmos!

    So many benefits to ‘moving’ the arena to Lebreton:
    – The City would benefit from high off-peak use of the transit system, generating much more revenue, helping the City with a quicker return on investment.
    – The MTO would benefit from tens of thousands less cars on the 417 per year (as would most residents of Kanata).
    – The Ottawa Senators would likely benefit from more frequent sold out games, higher ticket prices, increased corporate ticket sales and increased alcohol sales.
    – The economy would benefit from surrounding ancillary uses (restaurants, bars pre- and post-game), not just at Lebreton, but downtown in general.
    – The environment would benefit from making NHL games and Concerts less auto-dependent and eliminating a significant amount of vehicles from the roads.
    – Society would benefit from the creation of another lively mixed-use/entertainment district of the city, particularly before, during and after a major event – which currently does not exist on Palladium.
    – Bluesfest might benefit by attracting larger acts with an arena adjacent to the existing concert grounds.
    – The stigma of Ottawa being labelled as a ‘sleepy, conservative city’ would quickly be eliminated.

  2. For the west-of-Preston option (and I have to say there’d be something fitting about an NHL hockey arena located on one of the streets named after Lord Stanley of Preston), if the arena were offset enough and the rink aligned parallel to the Confederation Line’s track, there wouldn’t need to be any raising of the arena at all. The tracks could just pass under the seating, likely the north side seating.

  3. This is a much bigger project than Senators/Melnyk could afford. Isn’t it more likely that a proposal would be put forth by a consotrium and be much larger scale than just a stadium? Something similar to Lansdowne where the Sport/Entertainment carrot is used as leverage to build a mixed-use center.

  4. The thought of an arena at Lebreton Flats makes me salivate. On another note, Eric, have you heard anything about the redevelopment of the Booth Street complex? I thought by now there would’ve been some news.

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